The commander on scene during the Uvalde, Texas, elementary school mass shooting made “the wrong decision” by not breaching the classrooms where the gunman was with students and teachers sooner, said Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, on Friday.
The on-scene commander considered the gunman barricaded and that the school was not in an active-shooter situation, despite 911 calls from students inside two connected classrooms, McCraw said.
The admission took place a chaotic press conference where officials shared new information about the timeline of the shooting, some of which contradicted previous details they had provided.
McCraw said at least two children who had called 911 survived. At least one victim, 10-year-old Amerie Jo Garza, was killed as she attempted to call 911, her grandmother told the Daily Beast.
McCraw said there were at least 19 officers in a hallway outside of the classrooms when the first call from inside one of the rooms was made around 12:03 pm but law enforcement did not breach the classrooms until 12:51 pm.
19 kids and two teachers were killed and 17 other people were injured throughout the attack.
Local and state law enforcement officials in Texas are facing ferocious criticism for why it took so long for officers to confront and stop the Uvalde shooter inside two fourth-grade classrooms.
Authorities said Thursday the shooter was inside the school for nearly 80 minutes before law enforcement shot and killed him.
The door through which the shooter entered the school had been previously propped open by a teacher, McCraw said.
Initial reports that a school security officer first confronted the shooter before he entered the school were false, McCraw said. The security officer was not on campus when shooting near the school was first reported but immediately proceeded to the scene.
After arriving at the scene, the security officer drove past the shooter and instead confronted a teacher, McCraw said.
The gunman shot “at least 100 rounds” throughout the attack. The doors to the classrooms in which the gunman barricaded himself were locked from the inside.
According to the timeline provided by McCraw, the shooter entered the school at 11:33 a.m. on Tuesday and immediately began firing into the classrooms.
- He was followed by three Uvalde police officers only minutes after he entered the school. Two of those officers were injured after they approached one of the doors to the classroom.
- The first call from inside one of the classrooms was made at 12:03 pm. Law enforcement did not breach the classrooms until 12:51 pm.
- The first call was from an unidentified person inside the classroom. The person made another call at 12:10 pm and advised that multiple people were dead.
- She called again at 12:13 pm and 12:16 pm and said there were eight to nine students alive inside the classroom she was in.
- Another call was placed from inside a classroom at 12:19 pm from another unidentified person, “who hung up when another student told her to hang up,” McCraw said.
- The initial caller, identified as a “student/child” made two more calls at 12:43 p.m. and 12:47 p.m. and asked the 911 operator to “please call the police now,” McCraw said.
- The Border Patrol tactical agents that breached the door to kill the suspect did so after receiving keys from a janitor to unlock one of the doors, McCraw said.
Reporting from Axios.